Back in when I lived in the Bay Area, I always made a point to visit the Liba Falafel food truck whenever it was feasible. As good as the falafel itself was, their unique toppings (all made from scratch by truck owner Gail Lillian) found on their so-called "falafel bar" (including but not exclusive to spiced carrot ribbons, cardamon and dill pickles, and harissa hot sauce) elevated your sandwich or bowl to unexpected heights.
Lillian has retired the truck as of 2016, but her falafel and toppings bar lives on at her brick-and-mortar location in Oakland, CA. I would love to try their brick-and-mortar one of these days for nostalgia's sake, but that pursuit I admit has lessened significantly when Brassica arrived upon the local Columbus scene.
Opened by the team behind Columbus' popular Northstar Cafe eateries in the old Betty's Fine Food & Spirits space, Brassica is not strictly a falafel place like Liba. This is to its benefit - while the falafel is some of the best I've had in the area, the omnivores that my spouse and I are have found their other options such as their chicken shawarma, brisket and lamb bacon are delicious and satisfying in their own rights.
Inside, Brassica displays its long narrow, brick-walled interior quite pleasingly, with a stylish touch of white subway tile along the main service counter. Note that there is a bit of a natural bottleneck right where you pay for your food where the space narrows, which is especially noticeable during busier times when the flow of people going to and fro is pretty constant.
Unlike a place like Liba, where the toppings are self-service, Brassica sports a line of servers to assist you with your choices. Perhaps the best way the first- or even second-timer can navigate the ordering process goes as follows:
1) Decide between a Sandwich, Salad (add $2 for this option) or a Hummus Plate (plate of hummus along with pita bread)
2) Choose your price point, which is based on the meat you choose...or not choose (the veggie option),
3) If you chose a sandwich or salad, choose your vegetable-oriented toppings (those who order the Hummus Plate who would like vegetables will need to order them on the side.)
This latter can get overwhelming at rush hour due to the substantial number of choices available, especially if you aren't familiar with all of them. Unless you know something is a no-go (e.g. you can't stand cauliflower, for example), the best way to go is get little of everything and try to narrow it down to your favorites on the next visit (to be truthful, my spouse and I kind of like it all.)
I admit when I first heard Brassica was opening, I initially thought "okay, another fast-casual bowl concept." However, we've found Brassica easily outdoes most other concepts just in sheer tastiness, from its proteins to its toppings and even its sides (very good fries, one of the creamier hummus creations I've encountered here in the States, and fresh-baked, house-made pita bread.) The beverage offerings complete this attractive and tasty package, with select local craft beers on draft and Boylan Cane Sodas available for those craving a pop.
Moreover, this eatery gives one the option of either remaining relatively healthy or indulging just a touch, making it that much more easier to go with your whims of the day. It's really no surprise that Brassica has remained as one of the main Columbus destination eateries since its opening in September of 2015.
680 N High St, (Short North - Google Maps)
Columbus, OH 43215
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